Media: Strategy analysis - Met operation illuminates Londoners

Brand: The Metropolitan Police
Client: Simon Marshall, director of recruitment
Brief: Make a visible difference on the streets of London by recruiting
2,500 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs)
Target audience: All Londoners, aged 18 to 56
Budget: Undisclosed

Media: MediaCom
Creative: TMP
Digital: JWT
Poster specialist: Posterscope


One of the biggest perceptions within London was that there was simply never a sufficient number of officers on the ground to deal with community crime. Police Community Support Officers were introduced to establish a visible police presence, to deter crime and make communities safer.

PCSOs should come from within the communities they work in, making a visible difference to people's lives - performing a much-needed public service, with the aim of building bridges in communities.

The target was to have 2,500 PCSOs in place by April 2007 -five times the previous year's target (576). The challenge was to make people aware of the PCSO opportunities and convince them that this was a career well worth pursuing, particularly among under-represented groups.

London's communities are made up of people of varying ethic origin, religion, age and gender. But the problem is one of identification: MediaCom needed to show the public that this was a job for "people like them" - ordinary people who want to work in their communities to make things better.

With this in mind, MediaCom looked to high-profile media that would impact in the very heart of communities, while delivering the audience a different kind of message from those usually communicated by the Met.


The campaign kicked off in April 2006, with the aim of creating an integrated network of neon yellow messages to seemingly surround Londoners wherever they went, via digital, the local press and radio (albeit without the neon messages). There was also a presence on the Tube and on bus sides.

All media channels were local or locally focused; whether it was a London-specific recruitment website, advertorial in a London newspaper or a London radio station, the community message was reinforced by MediaCom's media channels and placements to deliver identification with the message.- Online In addition to recruitment websites, MediaCom's digital elements included London IP targeting to ensure the target audience was reached, and other London-based sites alongside search engine marketing with Google.- Outdoor MediaCom aimed to create the feeling of a presence on every bus and at every Tube station: standing out in the various communities and feeding the responsiveness of other activity. A community message communicated through Londoners' very own media.

The campaign is ongoing, with new innovative strands being introduced, such as bus sides that incorporate LED screens with GPS technology. This enables the actual postcode to appear in a bespoke message as they move through particular communities.


The campaign has so far generated thousands of enquiries and secured more than 5,500 completed applications to become a PCSO in their own community.

Also, August saw the most applications to date, demonstrating that the campaign is not just sustaining its level of success, but actually becoming more and more effective, continuing to help have a positive effect on the lives of Londoners.

THE VERDICT - Mark Holden, executive planning director, PHD

Although I am a bit anxious that they may set one of these Police Community Support Officers on me, I have to be honest about what I think of this strategy.

I read it over a few times and cannot help think that it is all a bit, well, average. Which doesn't mean it is bad. It's just not that interesting, and is likely to be forgotten about as quickly as last week's Chinese takeaway.

The brief, in a nutshell, was to recruit 2,500 Police Community Support Officers. The team bought some press, radio, various outdoor formats and some online. The main thing that was different was the use of GPS technology to change the LED message by postcode area. This is a nice use of the technology, and for this the planners deserve a pat on the back. But what about the rest of it?

Outdoor is positioned as the lead medium for this campaign. I am not sure that this is right. A high percentage of the impacts purchased would have been distributed as frequency. And, for this task, frequency was not as essential as depth of communication (for example, getting people to take notice and think). After all, although there were a few different objectives, the key objective was very simple - generate a call-to-attention/action response.

For what it's worth, I cannot help feeling that radio would have been a more powerful lead channel, used in non-traditional ways - perhaps using the DJs. I wonder whether, used in this way, they could have achieved the same result for less money? This is hard to know.

This is an "okay" piece of work. MediaCom may claim that the campaign has been fabulously successful at driving applications, but at what cost?

I'm not sure what the budget was, but, as a guess, let's assume it was somewhere between £500,000 and £1 million. That would equate to a cost per application achieved of £100 to £200. Assuming the conversion rate is 10 per cent, then it could be in the region of £1,000-£2,000 per new PCSO. Is this good or not?

Obviously, I have no idea, but the answer to this question is the only thing that matters - everything else is a means to an end. It did stand out, though.



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